Department > Old Iron
Most Requested Military Vehicle
by Jim Allen
What the heck is a Pinzgauer? Well, it was the most requested military vehicle in our recent “What do you want?” reader survey. The 700 series Pinzgauers have flooded the surplus markets in the past few years since being released from NATO and European military service. They are being seen more often these days and have gone from total obscurity to at least “heard the name” status among the American ‘wheeling public. Evidently a bunch of you want to hear more.
The Pinzgauer, affectionately called the “Pinzie” or “Pinz” by their owners, comes from Steyr-Puch (more accurately Steyr-Daimler-Puch) in Graz, Austria. They are named after a famous Austrian horse breed known for it’s spots. There’s also a breed of cattle with the same name, but that’s a sensitive topic for Pinzie owners. The roots of the Steyr-Puch company go back to 1899. While the company has produced many quality civilian cars and trucks over the last 100 years,they also built some mighty impressive 4x4 and 6x6 military vehicles for the German Army during World War II.
The 1-ton rated 710M is the most common Pinzgauer variant. It’s a ragtop that can seat 10 troops or carry cargo. Chris Nash and Nathan Hudson’s ’74 is fresh off the boat from Swiss Army service and is stock right down to the Maloya tires.
The 712 series is the 6x6 line, but is mechanically very similar to the 710. It has slightly lower overall gearing, leaf-spring rear suspension, a larger fuel tank and is rated for 1.5 tons. It can seat 14 troops. Like it’s 4x4 brother, it comes as a K model hard cab unit with five doors. The is also an ambulance version with a removable body.
Development of the Pinzgauer started in 1965 and production began in 1971. It was designed as a military vehicle and, although much larger, followed the general design cues of the diminutive Haflinger 4x4 (also named after a horse) that debuted in 1959. Civilian versions were built and sold, but in relatively small numbers.
Following many European trends in 4x4 design, the first generation Pinzgauer featured a forward control (cabover) driving position, independent suspension system, portal axles, lockers in both differentials and an air-cooled engine. One of their most notable features is a very narrow track. This is attributable to the narrow state of European roads and the need for the vehicles to run through heavily forested areas.
Our token Steyr-Puch Haflinger. The Haflinger is the Pinzie’s older, but littler brother. Named after a breed of mountain horse, they were in production from 1959 into 1976. They are very similar in concept to the Pinzgauer, with independent suspension, lockers at both ends, forward control and an air-cooled engine. The engine is either a 24 or 27 hp opposed 2-cylinder of 643cc and mounts in the rear. The unit weights only 1275 pounds and is just over nine feet long. Jim Walter’s Haflinger is a ’70 model and may have once mounted a TOW anti-tank missile.
The 710K is a closed cab, five-door station wagon that was used as a radio or command vehicle. Mechanically they are identical to the 710M, but they may also include extra features like gasoline heaters and improved seating. they are a bit more topheavy than the M-models. This one has been repainted.
The Pinzie comes in two evolutions, the original 1971-87 700 series and the 1988-00 Turbo-Diesel units. The later units are similar in concept to the originals, but have a wider track (59.8 inches vs 56.7 inches) and a water-cooled, turbo diesel from VW. Production of the Pinzgauer stopped in 2000 at the Graz factory, (which is now busy producing Euro market Jeeps among other things), but has recently been started up again by an English company under license from Steyr-Puch.
The Pinzgauer has features very strange to American four-wheelers, but it’s an easy vehicle to get to know and one with few vices. With it’s high stance and a narrow track, one would expect the Pinzgauer to be susceptible to rolling over in anything more than a light wind. Not so! The heavy drivetrain, with all of it’s huge, cast housings, keeps the center of gravity relatively low for the ragtop models, and despite lots of tire lifting and leaning, they are more stable than they appear. A driver’s “Butt-clinometer” will be pegged in rockcrawling and off-camber situations, but time and time again, he will come through unscathed and be surprised at the rig’s stability.
The Puch 2.5L slant four is an interesting engine to say the least. It makes about 92 hp and is air cooled. It uses twin Solex Zenith 2-bbl carbs. In military form, it has a waterproofed, shielded ignition, though this engine has been converted to an electronic ignition system. The fording downside is that if water gets up to the engine cooling fan, it will strip the blades from it.
The air-cooled 2.5L Puch engine is surprisingly torquey for such a little guy. The low gearing (57.6:1 crawl ratio) keeps the powerplant in a high rpm range, but surprisingly, the engine will really grunt when it has todespite being equipped with twin, 2-bbl Solexcarburetors (similar to carbs used on older, 4-cylinder Porsches). A person could reasonably assume this low-revving unit (governed to about 4,500 rpm) is a little over-carbureted, but the only downside appears to be abysmal fuel economy. According to many owners, on a good day, you might scratch at 14 mpg. You don’t want to hear about the bad days!
The Pinzie has a smooth, 5-speed gearbox built by ZF of Germany. Instead of an overdrive fifth, it has a super low first gear (5.33:1). Normally, second is used for starts and the shifter has a standard “H-gate” shift pattern from second to fourth. Reverse is above first, so it’s easy to rock the vehicle when needed. The unit shifts as slick as oiled spaghetti, though first gear takes a little practice to reach quickly.
The interior is typically military but better than some. One of the more interesting features are circuit breakers on the dash for the electrical system that can be reset on the go. The trans shifter is the lever with the black knob and the low range lever is the stick with the red knob just behind it.
Four-wheel drive is engaged via a hydraulic control, with low range achieved from a lever near the shifter. The Pinzie has mechanical lockers in both axles (or in all three axles in the case of the 6x6) which are engaged from two hydraulic actuating levers on the dash. They are completely internal, so the units are pretty trouble free. Application of the controls is easy and smooth.
Ride quality is reasonably good, though tires make a big difference. The OE tires, a Swiss made Maloya bias-ply mud and snow, are stiff puppies and many owners switch to radials. Tires are a big weakness of the Pinz.
Their narrow, 16-inch wheels (about 6.5 inches wide) won’t allow
The front suspension combines coil springs, swing arms and portal type hubs with reduction gears. Note the big housing that encloses the driveshafts and provides a great deal of structural rigidity to the vehicle. Note also that the engine and tranny sit side-saddle along the right side of the drivetrain, but the upper end of the engine leans over the tube to the left.
The 6x6 uses a pair of leaf springs that are solidly mounted in the center on each side. Each end of the spring rests atop the swing axle tube. Shocks and limit straps attach to each swing axle tube. The hydraulic cylinder sticking out in the middle of this shot is the slave that engages the front axle. Note that the power from the engine enters on the right side of the housing.
for a very big tire, and the vehicle could really use the traction of some extra rubber. The wheels have an odd wheel pattern, so a custom built or widened wheel is the only answer.
Creature comforts are typical of many military rigs .... practically non-existent. The heater, and you are being generous to apply that term, works off an exhaust heat exchanger. It will reduce the effects of frostbite, but that’s about it. The seats are typical military “numb-butt” specials. The ragtops are surprisingly tight, much better than the stuff many American GIs have endured.
The 4x4 Pinzies use a pair of small coils, a single shock and a limit strap for the rear suspension. Note the housing going out the back from the diff housing and how it terminates into a stout pintle hitch. The rear swing axles also use a portal design and reduction gears.
The forward control driving position takes some getting used to, but you will love the visibility. The sliding “guillotine” type windows offer little room to peek your head out for a look, but the top half of the doors are removable. Steering is of the manual “Armstrong” type.
The Pinzgauer is a fascinating 4x4 and it’s understandable that it appeared on our list of requested 4x4s. The magazines have been talking about them since the mid 1990s, but few ‘wheelers have seen them in action. The are still being imported in some numbers, so don’t be surprised to find one in your neck of the woods.
Being fully independent, the Pinzie doesn’t articulate like live axle rigs, so tire lifting is common. Still, with low gears and factory lockers at both ends, it’s capable on the trail. Give one some good tires and it would be extremely capable for a stock rig.
Steyr-Puch, Graz, Austria
710- 4x4, 1-ton 712- 6x6, 1.5-ton
152.4ci, Puch 4-cyl. inline, air-cooled
92 hp @ 4000 rpm
132.6 lbs-ft @ 2000 rpm
8.0:1 (optional 7.5:1 w/87hp)
Two Solex Zenith 36-NDIX
2-speed, low range 1.69:1
Portal type independent, swing axle withspur gear reduction in hubs, hydraulic lockers in both differentials
2.846:1 in diff, 2.266 in hub, 6.45:1 overall
Length x Width:
13.6 x 5.7 x 6.7 (710M)
86.6 inches (710M)
4,300 pounds (710M)
20 gallons (33 gallons optional)
Sources for Pinzgauers and Parts
- Cold War Remarketing
- Dept ORA
- 8571 N. US Highway 85
- Littleton, CO 80125
- Expedition Imports
- Dept ORA
- 225 L Bennett Ave. Suite A
- Vallejo, CA 94590